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Regime Change

In the Star-Ledger, Andy McCullough has an excellent, lengthy feature on hitting coach Dave Hudgens and his partner in plate discipline, minor league field coordinator Dick Scott.

Scott defines the approach as ?focused aggression,? with an emphasis on targeting fastballs. They discourage players from swinging at breaking balls before two strikes. Instructors run drills to enhance pitch recognition. During instructional league action last year, hitters were forced to take a strike before they swung.

With all minor-league hitters set to report this weekend, Scott and his staff assembled a PowerPoint presentation. One slide displayed how on-base percentage and walks per plate appearance correlates with playoff berths. Another series of slides shows heat maps for what pitches sluggers like Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Matt Kemp attack when they?re ahead in the count. Each map flared red-orange over the middle of the plate. 

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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The Mets will have a new Scouting Director in 2012, Tommy Tanous. Tanous replaces Chad MacDonald, who has been on the job for a year, who is taking a position with the Padres as their VP/Assistant GM. Obviously it's a step up for MacDonald, so the Mets were in no position to prevent him from leaving.

The Scouting Director's primary function is overseeing the amateur draft. As such, I think the importance of the position is probably underrated by the average fan. Everyone wants homegrown players, but the Scouting Director is the guy who makes the call on most of the guys, especially those outside of the first two rounds. I think that in the Mets present case, where Paul DePodesta has the title of Vice President, Player Development & Amateur Scouting, and is very actively involved in scouting amateur players for the draft, the draft is more of a collaborative process.

Chad MacDonald talked about his lone Mets draft with ESPNNY's Adam Rubin here.

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Subjects include: draft slotting, promoting players and J.P.'s role.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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The Mets named their 2011 Major League Coaching staff today and mixed holdovers from 2010, organizational soldiers and fresh blood together for manager Terry Collins.Here's the staff:

Dave Hudgens? - Hitting Coach

Jon Debus - Bullpen coach

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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I'm heading home to Savannah from the baseball Winter Meetings today.? The Meetings are always fun.? Walking past different members of Baseball Royalty in the halls never really gets old.? This year, I went to a bunch of seminars of various utility, saw a bunch of old friends, and helped interview a few potential interns for Savannah.

One of the major highlights for me was the Mets affiliate reception on Monday night.? Every year, every Major League team hosts all of their minor league affiliates for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.? Strangely, I was a little nervous.? The last time I went to the Meetings with an affiliated team was 2006, when I worked for the Visalia Oaks, who were then a new Diamondbacks farm team, but I don't remember going to an affiliate reception that year so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect.? The reception is pretty straightforward: there's a bar in the corner of the room, nibbles along one wall and in the middle of the room, the staff from all of the minor league teams from Buffalo on down and most of the major Mets' minor league staff members.

Some highlights:

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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Joel Sherman in the Post had it first, but I can confirm that Dickie Scott will be the Mets new Minor League Field Coordinator.? The Mets hope to make an official announcement Tuesday.? Terry Collins, who was recently named the Mets' manager, held the Field Coordinator job in 2010.

Scott was the Blue Jays Director of Player Development under J.P. Ricciardi from 2001 through 2009, but was let go when Alex Anthopoulos took over.? Scott worked for the Houston Astros in 2010.? Before joining the Jays, Scott was the Special Assistant to the General Manager/Advance Scout for the Oakland A's.

Here's an excerpt from a six-year old interview Scott did in 2004 for an old site called the Batters Box.? Note that he's talking about on-base percentage.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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According to Nick Piecoro, the Arizona Diamondbacks beat writer for Arizona Republic, Chad MacDonald, who has served as the Dbacks Assistant Director of Scouting and the International Scouting Director the last two years will become the Mets next Scouting Director.

MacDonald has worked for the Angels (2003-05), and Indians (2000-2002).? According to his team bio, he was twice named the Topps Scout of the Month once in 2001 and once in 2005.

He attended both Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX and Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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Terry Collins will be the new manager of the New York Mets after serving as the Mets Field Coordinator in 2010.? I like the hire.

Last year, Omar Minaya coaxed Collins out of retirement to run the Mets farm system.? Following the Tony Bernazard debacle, Omar told Collins he needed him.? Collins, obviously accepted.? Although he wore the title of Field Coordinator, he was more like a Super-Field Coordinator with many of the baseball related duties of someone who would otherwise be called Director of Player Development.? Player moves?? Collins with input of course from his field staffers and Adam Wogan.? On the field, setting the standards for teaching?? That was Collins.? Administrative duties??? Wogan.? Phone call from a player's agent?? That went to Wogan.? Pure baseball issue?? Call TC.

The Field Coordinator's first show is organizing and running minor league spring training.? In 2010, Collins made some changes to the Mets programs from the Bernazard era.? The reviews, from players, coaches and coordinators I talked to, were all extremely positive.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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At 4:11 on Saturday afternoon, Jon Heyman of SI.com broke the news that the Mets would reassign scouting director Rudy Terrasas.? Ever since the team hired Paul DePodesta as the Vice President, Player Development and Amateur Scouting, this move has been all but inevitable.

Heyman's story claims the Mets have "fired" Terrasas, but according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Paul DePodesta texted him that, "there is a good chance that Rudy will remain with organization."? This sentiment, that the Mets might retain Terrasas in another role, was echoed by multiple other beat writers.

The Mets recent drafts have simply not been very productive.? Part of the problem is the team has adhered closely to the commissioner's recommended slot.? However, that is at best an incomplete explanation. ? Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger quotes Baseball America's Jim Callis as saying, "I don?t think they?ve done a great job ? if you look at their picks ? drafting guys for slot, either...I don?t think they?ve drafted as well as other teams, dollar-for-dollar.?

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  • The Seattle Mariners have named Rick Waits, their Minor League Pitching Coordinator.? Waits held the same job with the New York Mets, but the team decided not to renew his contract for the 2011 season after a disappointing season for Mets pitching prospects.? Now you can add, "hire a new pitching coordinator" to the to-do list for the new front office alongside: find a manager, add another starter, find relief help, and devise an answer at second base all without increasing payroll.
  • This is a talk Paul DePodesta gave at the Credit Suisse/First Boston "Thought Leader Forum" in 2003.? He talks, in mostly general terms, about changing systems, and creating an objective framework for decision-making in baseball.? It made me almost giddy.
  • At Amazin' Avenue Rob Castellano went around the Winter Leagues and found... not many Mets excelling.
  • Mike Newman at Scoutingthesally.com revisits his earlier Cesar Puello scouting report and finds a lot more to like the second time around.? Ummm, yeah.? He was a dramatically better player in the season's second half for Savannah and is one of the Mets' top outfield prospects, if not the best.
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The draft stuff begins at 1:46.

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Ted Berg was liveblogging new VP of Player Development and Amateur Scouting Paul DePodesta's conference call.? I wasn't.? The headings and italics are mine.? The quotes are his.

NY State of Mind

DePodesta explains that it was difficult to leave San Diego, but that a call from Alderson is ?almost like a call to service.? The allure of New York also impacted his decision.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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Not quite a week ago, I expressed some reservation about J.P. Ricciardi's record when he was hired.? I have no similar ambivalence about Paul DePodesta. None.? This is a tremendous hire. ?? He's smart.? He's run his own team.? He's worked with Alderson and many of baseball's best minds.

As the GM, he helped build a playoff team in LA in 2004 before he was run out of town in 2005.? In part, the press never forgave him for trading Paul LoDuca for Brad Penny at the trading deadline in 2004, a move that looks even better in hindsight.

There's so much DePodesta material out there on these crazy interwebs it's almost hard to know where to start.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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According to SNY Senior VP of News Programming, Brad Como, the Mets have named Paul DePodesta the team's new VP Player Development and Scouting.

Note that DePodesta assumes control of both sides of the player development apparatus, including both the acquisition and teaching of young players.

Love it.? More later.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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I was going to skip the details of the Mets' manager search, but Sandy Alderson seem to be talking to half the minor league managers in the system, which, as they say, is nice.

Set aside for a moment the qualifications of the internal candidates, some of which are quite strong, but meeting with Terry Collins, Ken Oberkfell, Tim Teufel and Wally Backman from the minor league side in addition to Bob Melvin and Chip Hale, is a shrewd piece of organizational politics.? If you're keeping score at home, that's the minor league Field Coordinator (Collins), AAA manager (Oberkfell), AA manager (Teufel), and short-season manager (Backman).

As Matt put it yesterday, it would be "disrespectful" not to meet with Oberkfell, who's served as the team's triple-A manager for six seasons now and has been with the Mets since 2001.? Now the minor league guys have a chance to sit down with the new boss, and in turn, Alderson will have a chance to get to know some of his minor league skippers better, or at least as well as an interview will allow.

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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Yesterday, the Mets announced that they hired J.P Ricciardi as a Special Assistant to GM Sandy Alderson.? It's a reunion.? Ricciardi held the same post under Alderson in Oakland before becoming the Director of Player Personnel for Billy Beane and then later the GM of the Blue Jays in November 2001.

Ricciardi is one of Alderson's guys.? He suggested to the media that he was leaning towards taking a job with Boston, until Alderson called him.? As quoted by Adam Rubin at ESPNNY, Ricciardi said of the Boston gig, "I was going to head that direction until Sandy got the job."

Ricciardi lasted eight years with the Toronto Blue Jays when Rogers Communications owned the team.? The GM of the Blue Jays from the years 2001-2009 had to be one of the most toughest in sports because he was competing first with the Yankee Dynasty and then the mini Evil Empire Red Sox with a fraction of the budget.? Ricciardi did not have much success in the role.? However, he made his own life difficult with a string of bad contracts.

Tags: Analysis, Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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In response to Kevin Burkhardt about his First Steps as GM:
What's really going to be important for me... is how we structure the front office... and the process by which we make decisions.? I think process is important.? It's about probabilities... Our goal is to constantly improve the probability of success...
Manager
I do believe that a manager needs to reflect the philosophy of the organization...The manager is a very critical part of the overall leadership structure... I think a fiery manager is desirable.? I think it's important for a manager to be somewhat analytical, and occasionally, if not often, intuitive.? We're looking for someone that fits intellectual requirements and emotional ones.
Freedom
This situation is very similar to others where I've worked whether it's with a club or MLB.? In some instances, I will make decisions, in some, I will make recommendations.? And that's how it should be.? My goal is that every one of my recommendations is accepted. ...
On his Philosophy
I think we want to be thoughtful about everything we do...
Many aspects of what you might call a Oak or SD philosophy, pertain.? The great franchises in big markets are very good at player development.? Things like on-base percentage, slugging and power are important.? The mathematics don't lie.? Speed matters too.

(emphasis added)

In response to evaluating the system
A big plus is the fact that the system has started to produce players at the MLB level... If you think about teams and how they involve, home grown players are really important, not just from a financial ... As far as the system is concerned right now, I think it's probably middle of the pack.? We should never be in the middle of the pack.
Re: MLB roster
Eventually, we'd like to have some flexibility.
The fun part of the game is the game itself.
In response to Marty Noble's question about how Alderson would get his information about past Mets teams:
I'm focused on 2011 primarily and not things that are historical in nature.
Alderson on his style:
  • Friendly but professional
  • Positive work environment
  • I like to be collaborative ... I don't care what level
  • Analytical but innovative... I like information
  • Bold but alert to risk and probabilities...
  • Humor ... It's gotta be fun
Short-term vs. Long-term goals
I by no means am looking beyond 2011.? Our job here is to put the best possible team on the field in 2011.? If we work at it, we should be competitive.? ... There was a drop off based on injury and some underachievement.? I'm very optimistic about 2011.? At the same time, we need to begin to think about how we approach it on an intermediate and long-term basis.
Re: Free Agency
What I mean by that is setting up a situation where we could be aggressive every year.? We want to be in the market every year. Will we be in the market aggressively this year?? Unlikely.
(emphasis added)

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Two great things? from this morning's Joel Sherman columns in the Post, both of which relate to Sandy Alderson player development.? First, in his column about Alderson's search for a new manager:

According to several sources, he already has reached out to Paul DePodesta, whom he hired in San Diego, to help strengthen the Mets? statistical department and J.P. Ricciardi, whom he worked with in Oakland, to assist on player personnel.
Bringing in smart people with a reputation for advanced statistical analysis.? Sign me up!

That's cool.? This endorsement from Grady Fuson, who has worked with Alderson for years is even better:

Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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What was Sandy Alderson doing as the Padres' CEO from 2005-2009?

Earlier this week, Geoff Young of Ducksnorts, who covers the Padres, told Ted Berg that a big piece of Sandy Alderson's role in San Diego was cleaning up the draft "processes," following San Diego's disastrous draft in 2004 when, with the first overall pick, the Padres selected Matt Bush.? Bush, drafted as a shortstop, didn't hit, and became famous for a nightclub altercation before he'd ever taken the field.? He became a pitcher in 2007 before the Padres gave up on him.? He appeared in six games in advanced-A for the Rays, his third organization, in 2010 and looks likely to be just the third player drafted first overall who will not play in the big leagues.

In some ways, Young is being charitable to the Padres by merely mentioning Bush and the 2004 draft.? San Diego's draft problems ran much deeper than drafting Bush first overall in 2004.? Alderson joined San Diego in April of 2005, but his immediate impact on the June 2005 draft, just two months after he joined the organization does not appear significant.

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Adam Rubin does a nice interview with Eric Walker, who worked as an analyst for Sandy Alderson.? I love this answer:

It seems like with the Mets there wasn?t a cohesive philosophy between the majors and all levels of the minors. How might Sandy Alderson impact that?

I think you?ll see that change drastically. [The A?s] worked very much toward having a uniform philosophy top to bottom. This was even truer under Billy, but very much so under Sandy. You?ve to remember, again, when Sandy came in he was fighting an uphill battle. Everything and everybody in the organization said, "This guy is an outsider. Why should we be minding him?" And he had a lot of stubborn resistance. Even Billy did in his time. And Billy came in during the mid-?90s. ? They worked very hard toward teaching guys in the minors what the philosophy was. And not only that, but why the philosophy was, so it didn?t seem like this is some goofy idea those guys have. Times have changed and I suspect a lot of young players coming in have some idea of what analysis is, although maybe I?m overestimating that. But there will definitely be a uniform philosophy from top to bottom about as quickly as that can practically be brought about.

On how many issues in the last few years has there been a disconnect between what was happening in the majors and minors?? In 2010 alone, for example, there was organizational infighting regarding Jenrry Mejia's role.? Also, Nick Evans played first base nearly exclusively in the minors, but mostly played outfield in the big leagues.
Tags: Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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Mets fans should be very pleased, and I think the overwhelming majority are, that the team has hired Sandy Alderson to be the team's new General Manager.? Alderson has helped build winners in Oakland and San Diego.? He's smart, blunt and analytical, capacities any organization should value.

He's the right man for the job because ownership trusted him.? That might seem like a tautology, but one of Josh Byrnes' problems in Arizona was that ownership went around his back and signed Eric Byrnes against their General Manager's wishes.? I think Byrnes could have been a successful choice if the Mets had given him the tools and freedom to succeed.? However, the guys in charge, Jeff and Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz trusted Alderson with the power, and that alone makes it preferable.

As far as the immediate impact on the farm system, I don't foresee huge changes coming immediately.? In the immediate term, I'd expect that the men who have been in charge in 2010, Dir. Minor League Operations Adam Wogan and Field Coordinator Terry Collins will stay with the team.? In part this is driven by an upcoming deadline.? Minor league coaches and managers have contracts that run out on October 31.? The instructors who were not going to be offered new deals under any scenario, have already been told they can look elsewhere.? However, many others, who the organization expected to retain, were stuck in a holding pattern while the GM search played out.

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Jon Heyman has just tweeted that the Mets will hire Sandy Alderson as the team's new General Manager.? Heyman added, "alderson gives mets instant added credibility."
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The Mets officially announced yesterday that the final two candidates for the GM position will be Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes.? ?We are bringing back Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson for a second round of interviews with Fred, Saul and me. Josh is scheduled for Monday and Sandy for Tuesday as we continue our search for the next General Manager of the Mets,? Jeff Wilpon said in a press release.

Jeff Wilpon and Assistant GM John Ricco, informed Allan Baird, Rick Hahn, Logan White, and Dana Brown yesterday, that they were no longer being considered for the position.

Alderson, 62, has been the favorite for the postion for some time now.? Alderson currently works for MLB in leading efforts to reform baseball operations in the Dominican Republic.? Alderson, a former Marine, is regarded as a no-nonsense individual.? According to Adam Rubin on ESPNNY.com, Alderson believes strongly in a top-down approach, where managers execute the philosophies of the GM.? Cardinals manager Tony Larussa, fully endorses Alderson.? ??Sandy has been around long enough and been in enough situations that he's able to adapt to any environment.? Even though he's the guy in charge, he's always been answerable to someone, and it would be no different in New York,? said Larussa according to Dan Martin of the NYPost.? Larussa served as the A?s manager for 10 years under Alderson?s GM tenure in Oakland.? Alderson is highly respected and is known for his intelligence amongst other qualities.

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Everyone seems to assume that Sandy Alderson will be the next general manager of the Mets.? I'll do a fuller analysis of the two, they share some important qualities, but here are a few nuggets on the other guy, Josh Byrnes:

1. Basically, the argument for Byrnes is that he's smart (played collegiate baseball at Haverford), and has worked for a number of well-run organizations including Cleveland, Boston and Colorado before becoming a GM in Arizona.

2. He went for it hard in Arizona in 2008, trading a bunch of prospects for Dan Haren and then Adam Dunn, but the D-Backs finished two games behind the Dodgers in the West.

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Minaya had to go.? Even he knew it.? You can't spend $283 million on consective sub-.500 teams and keep your job.

It seems appropriate here to write an examination of the Mets farm system during the Omar Minaya Regime.? I will not, nor cannot summarize six years of games and decisions.? Instead, lets focus on the big themes.

A Few Names at the Top

Tags: Analysis, Omar Minaya, Regime Change, Toby Hyde
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